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How to

Pack to Go Back

by Dr. Suzanne Nelson Back to School. And for many of us, that means back to packing lunches. As a kid, do you remember your lunch box? I’ll give you a hint about mine… it was a Disney character. Growing kids need nutrient-rich foods to get them through the day. After all, healthy minds and healthy bodies, start with healthy foods! You can feel good about adding raisins to the lunchbox—they’re a nutritious and kid-friendly choice. Some quick facts about Sun-Maid raisins:

  • A small 1 oz. box = 90 calories; A 0.5 mini box = 45 calories
  • 100% fruit – just grapes naturally dried in the sun
  • No added sugar or salt
  • Fat-free
  • Cholesterol free
  • Source of fiber
  • Source of potassium and other minerals
  • Rich in antioxidants

Quick and Easy Packing

  • Have kids pick their own reusable lunch bag or box (remember when?)
  • Use plastic bento-style containers
  • Re-useable ice pack, frozen 100% juice pack, or frozen small water bottle to keep food cool
  • Snack size baggies as needed for packing food items

Lunch Box Snack Tips

  • Include more whole foods and less processed foods. Choose snack items with higher amounts of fiber and nutrients like fruit, dried fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.  Include fewer processed foods such as cookies, chips, and snacks that contain added salt, sugar, and heart-unhealthy saturated fat.
  • Keep it Fun with Finger-Friendly Foods. Kids are more likely to eat what you pack when the foods are easy to eat and come in fun shapes and colors that they can mix together or stack.
    • Fruit: Pack small boxes of raisins and pieces of fruit like apple wedges, grapes, berries, that are easy for kids to eat. Take advantage of the fact that kids like to dunk, and include a protein rich food like a small container of nut butter or fruited Greek yogurt for dipping!
    • Veggies: Include baby carrots or grape tomatoes or cucumber slices with a small container of hummus. Try the classic “ants on a log” for the creaminess of nut butter, the crunch of celery and the sweetness of raisins.
    • Cereal: Pack whole grain cereal and raisins in a plastic baggie or container. Add ½ of a banana to roll in the cereal.
    • Roll-ups:Take the meat and/or cheese, lay it flat. Roll it up like a burrito. Slice it into chunks, hold in place with toothpicks.
    • Stackers:Cut 1 inch square slices of chicken, turkey, roast beef, and/or cheese, along with whole grain crackers, assorted vegetable toppings like sliced cucumber, tomatoes, and bell pepper. Kids can mix and match their own bites.
    • Fruit bars and muffins: For a nutrition-packed treat try making a chewy fruit bar or an apple and raisin muffin (see recipes below).
  • Pulling It All Together
    • Deli turkey or chicken + lettuce + wholegrain bread, fruit bar
    • Turkey pepperoni + Swiss cheese + sliced carrots + wheat crackers in stacks, grapes
    • Shredded chicken + guacamole + shredded cheese + mango salsa rolled up in a tortilla
    • Apple slices + cheddar cheese + whole wheat pita wedges in stacks, raisins.
    • Graham crackers + almond butter, strawberries, yogurt
    • Ham + cheddar + mini bagel, ants on a log, cherry tomatoes
    • Penne or bowtie pasta + shredded mozzarella + sliced cherry tomatoes + spinach tossed in vinaigrette.
    • Oat, apple raisin muffin with soft wedge of soft cheese (to spread on muffin), strawberries

So what’s your favorite lunch combo for kids?  Share your ideas in the comments below. Bonus points if it includes dried fruit!  

Snaily Bento Box

"Snaily" bento box SUPPLIES Small bento type box or covered food container Paper or silicon muffin cups  

Fruity Snails

  INGREDIENTS

  • One 8 to 10 inch flour tortilla
  • Peanut butter or cream cheese
  • Sun-Maid Natural Raisins
  • Sun-Maid Golden Raisins
  • Rice cereal

  DIRECTIONS Lay tortilla on a flat surface. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter or cream cheese over tortilla. Chop apricots to the same size as raisins. Sprinkle an even layer of apricots and raisins over two-thirds of the cream cheese. Roll very tightly, starting on the fruit filled edge of the tortilla. Slice into 1-inch pieces. Unroll 1-inch of the tortilla and place raisins for snail eyes and antennae. Fill one part of the bento box with rice cereal. Place snails over cereal.  

Apricot Flowers

  INGREDIENTS

  • Sun-Maid Mediterranean Apricots
  • Sun-Maid Cape Cod Cranberries
  • Pretzel sticks

  DIRECTIONS Press an apricot firmly between fingers to flatten slightly. With a small cookie cutter or knife, cut flower shapes. Insert a pretzel stick into the opening of the apricot to form a “flower stem.” Attach cranberries with a dab of peanut butter.  

Garden Gravel

Combine equal parts of Sun-Maid Natural Raisins and Golden Raisins and a choice of nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. Place mixture in a muffin cup or section of the bento box.  

Under the Sea Bento Box

"Under the sea" bento box SUPPLIES Small bento-type box or covered food container Paper or silicon muffin cups  

Fish Sandwich

  INGREDIENTS

  • Sliced white or whole wheat bread
  • Peanut butter or sliced cheese
  • Sun-Maid Natural Raisins
  • Sun-Maid California or Mediterranean Apricots

  DIRECTIONS Using a potsticker crimper, cut the bread the diameter of the mold. Place bread round in the crimper. Put a teaspoon of peanut butter or a few pieces of cheese in the center of the bread; add a few raisins. Press crimper firmly closed. Release and remove sandwich. Attach raisin eyes and apricot fin with a dab of peanut butter. Using a fish or balloon shaped cookie cutter, cut two pieces of bread and slice of cheese with cutter. Sandwich cheese between bread slices, with butter or mayonnaise if desired. Attach raisin eyes and apricot fin with a dab of peanut butter.  

Fish Food

Combine equal parts of Sun-Maid Natural Raisins and Golden Raisins and choice of nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds. Place mixture in one part of the box and set fish sandwiches on top.  

Bumps on a Log

Spread celery sticks with peanut butter or cream cheese. Add a row of Sun-Maid Natural Raisins, Golden Raisins or Cape Cod Cranberries. Place in a muffin cup in one section of the box.

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